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IV. [The Temptation]

The fourth point is the end, that is, the conflict, as it concerns Christ, insomuch that he was led to be tempted. In which temptation Augustine saith, Habemus & quod credentes veneremur, & quod videntes imitamur: [That which we have and which we believe we adore; that which we see, we practice] There be two things for faith to adore, and two things for imitation to practice.

First for faith[1], that the temptations of Christ, have sanctified temptations unto us[2]: that whereas before they were curses, like unto hanging on a tree[3]; now, since Christ hath been both tempted and hanged on a tree, they be no longer signs and pledges of God’s wrath, but favors. A man may be the child of GOD notwithstanding, and therefore he is not to receive a discouragement by any of them.[4]

Secondly[5], besides the sanctifying, it is an abatement[6], so that now when we are tempted, they have not the force they had before: for now, the serpent’s head is bruised, so that he is now nothing so strong (as he was) to cast his darts.[7] Also, the head of his darts are blunted, 1. Cor. 15. 55 Death, where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory?[8]

 For as his death and resurrection had a mortifying force against the old man[9], and a quickening force toward the new man[10]: so hath his temptation a dulling force to the Devil and a strengthening force to us.

For our life and imitation, there are also two.

First, Compassion: for Christ knowing in what sort we were tempted, as having felt by experience, both how strong the assaulting was, Psa. 118. 13[11], who thrust sore[12] at him that he might fall; & how feeble our nature is to make resistance[13], be nothing but dust, Psalm. 103. 14[14] he is moved thereby to lay away severity[15], and to put on the bowels of compassion[16]. So that Now we have not a high Priest which cannot be tempted with our infirmities, but was tempted in like sort, Heb. 4. 15. So we, (which were before stony judges, and too rough [difficult] for physicians) ought in like sort (having been tempted ourselves) to look upon others defects with a more passionate regard.[17]

The second thing we are to imitate, Christ is our fellow-helper in all our necessities and temptations; who, as he shows us his [the Devil’s] sleights and darts, Eph. 4. 14[18] so he teaches us how to avoid them. This is no small comfort to us, when we consider that he [Christ] is with us, and will be till the end of the world, Matt. 28. 20[19] who hath overcome the world, John 16. 33[20] and the devil: If any temptation happen, that he will bear us out, we may be of good cheer.[21] This was it that did so animate Job, Do thou but take my part, and who shall touch me? Job 17. 3. When as both Christ and we draw together in one yoke, Matt. 11. 29 what can hurt us?[22]

Yet if we be afraid for that we see the enemy coming; let us call for the help of our assistant, and as it is said in Psal. 68. 1 we shall see God will arise, and his enemies shall be scattered: they shall vanish like smoke, and melt like way. When they are ready to attach us[23], let us say, Save me O God, for the waters are entered even into my soul. Psalm 69. 1. When we are feeble, then let us say with Ezekiel, O Lord it hath oppressed me, comfort me, Ezek. 38. 14. Or though they have wounded us, let vs say with David, Bring out thy spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me. Psalm. 35. 3. Say yet to my soul, I am thy salvation. So that we have not only an example, but a comfort too.

Notes

What can we take away from a knowledge that Christ was tempted? First, he proposes two points for us to “adore”: (1) We need not look upon a trial or temptation as proof of God’s displeasure or even our sin. Christ was tempted by the Devil himself, and he was brought to the temptation by the Holy Spirit. Since that is true, we can conclude, reasoning from the greater to the lesser, and reasoning from the fact that Christ is our Savior and representative, we can conclude that trials and temptations have a different purpose for us than punishment or God’s displeasure.

(2) The fact of Christ’s work has limited the power of temptation. This happens in two ways. (a) There has been a subjective transformation of us. We are different because our “old man” has been put to death with Christ:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:5–7 (ESV). (b) The Devil himself has suffered a mortal wound by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 (ESV).

Second, there are two things for us to do. (1) Look upon others with compassion when we see them in their weakness and distress. Here is the argument: (a) Christ is compassionate to those who are tempted. (b) We are to imitate Christ. (c) Therefore, we are to be compassionate to those in temptation.

The first premise of this argument comes from two passages in Hebrews:

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:14–18 (ESV). And:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV). This compassion of Christ is grounded in his knowledge of our weakness, being but dust.

The second premise can be found through-out the NT:

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:21 (ESV)

The conclusion follows from the first two premises.

(2) We also are given an example of who to navigate and pass beyond trials and temptations of this world, because we have the example of Christ. We also know that Christ has not merely left us an example to follow; but he also will walk through the trials with us. And in that we can have good courage.


[1] By faith, Andrews means that this knowledge is an encouragement to and a strengthening of our faith. We have greater understanding and thus greater hope.

[2] By “sanctified,” Andrews means that Christ having undergone temptation in human flesh has now transformed the nature of temptation which suffered by those who believe in and are united to Christ.

[3] Galatians 3:10–13 (ESV) “10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—” Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 21:22–23 (ESV) 22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.” This an interesting curse, because (1) the curse is not based upon the conduct of the man condemned; it is passive; and (2) the curse defiles the land. This is the reason that the Jews requested Pilate to not allow the bodies to stay on the cross overnight. John 19:31

[4] To be tempted, does not mean that God is displeased with us. Therefore, we need not be discouraged if we are tempted.

[5] Here is a further encouragement to our faith.

[6] The power of sin is limited due to Christ having gone through temptation.

[7] Andrews argues here that we are better able to withstand temptation, because Satan is no longer as strong as before Christ conquered him on the cross. Colossians 2:15 (ESV) “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” The bruising of the Serpent’s head is a reference to Genesis 3:14–15 (ESV)

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

                        “Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all livestock

and above all beasts of the field;

                        on your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

            15          I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

                        he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

“To cast his dart”: this is a reference to Ephesians 6:16 (ESV) “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”

[8] The 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians concerns the doctrine of the resurrection, moving from Jesus’ resurrection to the resurrection of those found in him. If death has been conquered by the Resurrection, then it’s sting has been removed.

1 Corinthians 15:51–55 (ESV)

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

                        “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

            55          “O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

[9] Puts to death our life prior to the knowledge of God. Calvin comments:

That our old man, etc. The old man, as the Old Testament is so called with reference to the New; for he begins to be old, when he is by degrees destroyed by a commencing regeneration. But what he means is the whole nature which we bring from the womb, and which is so in capable of the kingdom of God, that it must so far die as we are renewed to real life. This old man, he says, is fastened to the cross of Christ, for by its power he is slain: and he expressly referred to the cross, that he might more distinctly show, that we cannot be otherwise put to death than by partaking of his death. For I do not agree with those who think that he used the word crucified, rather than dead, because he still lives, and is in some respects vigorous. It is indeed a correct sentiment, but not suitable to this passage. The body of sin, which he afterwards mentions, does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass; for man, left to his own nature, is a mass made up of sin.

John Calvin, Romans, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Ro 6:6.

[10] Romans 6:5–11 (ESV) “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

[11] Psalm 118:12–13 (ESV)

            12          They surrounded me like bees;

they went out like a fire among thorns;

in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

            13          I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,

but the Lord helped me.

[12] “Sore” is an adverb which intensifies the previous action: to be “sore afraid” is to be very afraid. To “thrust sore” means to strike/thrust with great strength.

[13] In our own natural human strength, we are quite week and would not be able to resist.

[14] Psalm 103:13–14 (ESV)

13    As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14    For he knows our frame;

he remembers that we are dust.

[15] Since Christ knows how week we are, being but dust, he takes away the strength of temptation and turns to us with compassion.

[16] Compassion being associated with our guts, our insides. We would more likely make a reference to the “heart,” although we do speak about a “gut instinct” or “gut hunch”.

[17] If Christ can be compassionate with us, when we he sees our weakness in temptation; so, also, we should be far more compassionate with the weakness of others.

[18] Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)  “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

[19] Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

[20] John 16:25–33 (ESV) ‘’I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.’

“29 His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.’ 31 Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’”

[21] If we suffer a temptation, but know that while we are in the trial/temptation Christ is with us and will sustain through the temptation, we can bear it with a good spirit.

[22] Matthew 11:25–30 (ESV)  “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”

[23] When it appears our enemy will overtake us.